DS15 day 3 highlights: Lloyds on energy as currency, IBM on how IoT is shaping the business & Holition discusses disruption in retail

Did you miss day three of Digital Shoreditch 2015? Catch up on The Drum’s highlights, in partnership with Ogilvy, from the ‘Next’ day of the festival and find out why energy is the currency of the future, how the Internet of Things (IoT) is shaping IBM and why retailers shouldn’t rely on beacons to drive in store footfall.

Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds took a rather wacky, Star Trek-tainted look at the future of currency, in which the banking group’s innovation technologist Chris Gledhill predicted that energy and power will replace pounds and pence in the next 10 to 15 years.

Basing his theory on the newly announced Tesla home battery, which has been created to power homes and business independently, Gledhill said the knock-on effect for banking could mean there is the “very real potential” that any surplus energy generated could be swapped for goods and services.

“If you can generate electricity and store your own electricity then there is the very real potential to have a surplus of your own electricity,” he said. “Therefore what do you do with that? You sell it back into an electricity company, and so you end up with households starting to trade in electricity. You end up with a situation where your power becomes the currency.”

Gledhill suggested that a battery could become the third generation wallet, replacing mobile and digital apps as the second generation, if the technology is adapted to store surplus energy. He also debated the theory of “reputation currency” in an economy where money becomes less important than experiences and the reputation of individuals.

“The concepts of rich and poor start to melt away and you don’t care about other’s worth it’s all about you,” he said.

“You wouldn’t go to a bank and get a loan you would quantatively manage your own cash… The currency is not just a sum of assets it is hooked up to your LinkedIn profile, eBay selling page. You have your own share price and you can buy and sell other people’s currency if you think they will be successful.”

IBM

Despite being in the “wild west” of IoT, the movement has led IBM to “change dramatically” to help drive innovation forward in the field, according to the company’s senior inventor and product manager for IoT David Locke.

IBM has created the Internet of Things Foundation as a result, a fully managed cloud-hosted service that makes it simple to derive value from IoT devices. It allows start-ups to quickly create projects on the platform at low risk and cost.

Locke also discussed what IoT will mean for the blurring of industries' boundaries in the future and said that the smart home and heath care will begin to fuse together.

“One of the most interesting things about IoT is that it actually breaks down industry boundaries,” he said. “In the UK and the rest of the world there is a big problem with the ageing population and the cost of caring for them is very expensive and so an idea is to let those people stay in their own homes for as long as possible. So one of the things we are starting to see now is the coming together of the smart home and smart health care for the elderly.”

For example, said Locke, an elderly person could be monitored remotely. For instance if someone has an illness such as dementia rules could be set up to allow neighbours or family members to be notified if that person leaves the house between certain hours of the day or night.

Holition

Despite a flurry of major retailers including House of Fraser and Ted Baker introducing beacon technology to enhance the in-store experience, augmented reality solutions and software provider Holition, has argued that prompting customers to look down at their mobile phones is not the most effective method of driving in-store footfall.

Speaking about some of the main pitfalls that retail brands fall into, Holition’s lead creative Tommy Howard said three major things are at play.

“[Firstly] a complex user experience. If the experience isn’t intuitive enough people won’t use it. [Secondly] an un-beautiful experience. So if it devalues the brand in any way, or uses tech for tech’s sake then it has no worth to it. [Finally] distraction is a big one – we have the opportunity to utilise physical spaces using multiple resources instead of having people looking down at their phones”.

Advising brands on the best way to integrate technology and storytelling into the retail experience Howard said they should take four pillars into account; sensory, digital, physical and theatrical.

“As human beings we still crave tactile experiences and sometimes in the digital age we can get overwhelmed as it’s an exciting medium to play with but we need to appeal to all the senses and allow digital to support that.”

Accompanying Howard on stage was Holition’s lead software engineer Marcus Belcher who spoke about the potential for wearables to be used in an “anti-selfish data perspective”. He said devices such as the Apple Watch should be used to collect big data and serve as a predictive intelligence mechanism rather than pushing tweet updates and emails to the wearer.

GCI Health

IoT remained a hot topic throughout the day, and Chris Bath, senior account manager, GCI Health, followed IBM's lead on connected devices and health and discussed how IoT is shaping healthcare.

According to Bath, we are entering a "self-care era" with people more aware than ever of their health, thanks to the proliferation of smartphone apps and connected devices designed to help them monitor their health.

This in turn is changing the ways in which doctors and patients interact, as increasingly sophisticated machine to machine communication will eventually inform people when they need to see a doctor based on their individual data, meaning they do not enter the health system until they actually need to.

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